List of basic, universal spiritual principles
By Stephen Frasier
This is a partial list of universal spiritual principles which have been taught repeatedly by many of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers throughout history including the Buddha (6th century BCE), Lao-Tsu (6th century BCE), Jesus (1st century CE), and others.
Let’s get Beyond Religion
Our view that most of life’s problems relate to deviations from spiritually principled behavior as opposed to participation in the "wrong" supernatural or religious belief system is certainly not unique; however, it is rather controversial and often contested from many circles here within the Bible belt. Nevertheless, we are passionate about promoting just such a view, partly in support of broad missions of people like the Dalai Lama as described in his fantastic book Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.
[ All photos on this page by Stephen Frasier ]
NOTES: (1) This list of universal spiritual principles is a work in progress; there’s some overlap within the spiritual principles listed here. (2) I’ve become aware that this list is actually a mix of spiritual PRINCIPLES and spiritual PRACTICES; perhaps I’ll eventually get around to separating the two, thus producing a more accurate list. Thanks for visiting.
List of spiritual principles
- Remaining open-minded and teachable, much like a child; remaining pliable like clay
- Making peace with all; pacificsm, nonviolence; dedicated stance against war
- Mindfulness of the present moment
- Monitoring one’s stream of thoughts in an effort to maintain positivity and compassion (closely related to mindfulness of the present moment)
- Not worrying about the future
- Not dwelling upon past events
- Non-attachment (to things, people, places, ideas, habits, money, lifestyle, etc.); one must be able to walk away from it all if necessary, as the Buddha, Jesus, and many other teachers made quite clear
- Deflating the ego
- Practicing humility
- Constant awareness of & connection to oneness, to "the Source", and not having a need to name it or define it (Mother Nature, God, Tao, Universal Intelligence, Creator, creative force, the universe, or whatever else one might choose to call the unseen, unknowable realm; whatever rests behind the curtain of reality)
- Extending goodwill and Right Action not only toward humanity, but to creation in its entirety (pets, squirrels, trees, earth, insects, and yes, toward the overall environment as well; basically, having positive intent toward everything)
- Spiritual ecology: Acknowledging the critical need to recognize, understand, and address the spiritual dynamics at the root of environmental degradation
- Expressing hope; maintaining a positive outlook, even in the face of despair
- Focusing on unity, oneness, and sharing instead of division, separateness, and differences
- Tolerance and acceptance; refraining from criticizing, condemning, complaining (This is classic Dale Carnegie; certainly not easy)
- Forgiving others when we are wronged
- Displaying courage in the face of fear
- Following the heart, not worrying about the opinions and beliefs of others; avoiding habitual conformity
- Open-mindedness, flexibility, remaining teachable; willingness to learn and to objectively explore and study, rather than blindly accepting whatever you are told you "should" do or "ought" to believe
- Bringing truth to error
- Displaying faith in the face of doubt
- Showing kindness to neighbors (everyone); loving others (everyone) as ourselves
- Living with integrity (Being the same person no matter whom you’re with)
- Practicing brotherly love
- Employing perseverance and discipline in the face of obstacles
- Seeking opportunities to improve the world by asking, "How may I serve?"
- Practicing daily meditation to increase awareness, mindfulness
- Practicing quiet contemplation to develop insight, wisdom
- Treating others as we would like to be treated ("The Golden Rule")
- Facing hatred with compassion; loving one’s enemies
- Practicing honesty; telling the truth, avoiding lies
- Expressing genuine compassion; wanting as much or more for others as you do for yourself
- Avoiding fideistic, rigid, fundamentalist worldviews that declare all others to be wrong (i.e., Ending all belief that members of other religious faiths, the faithless, etc. are not as right as you are)
- Expressing gratitude and appreciation at all times; remaining grateful for everything and everyone you have in your life; also, being grateful for what others have in their lives
- Service-orientation: Our lives, including all business activity, should be focused on providing real service to others
- Not taking anything personally; this goes for any statement or action of another person (One of the classic Four Agreements by spiritual teacher Miguel Ruiz)
- Always doing one’s best (Another of the classic Four Agreements by spiritual teacher Miguel Ruiz)
- Doing what you say you’ll do
- Practicing what you preach (integrity)
- Giving anonymously
- Practicing silence, restraint
- Refraining from egotistical descriptions of one’s own spirituality; keeping your spiritual practices to yourself (that’s not to discourage teaching spirituality or spiritual practices to others; however, remaining mindful of ones true motivation in such matters really can help keep the ego out of the process.)
Faith: The sincere belief that living by these basic, universal, common-sense spiritual principles necessarily leads to a vibrant life overflowing with compassion and gratitude, service and giving, deep friendships, allowing one to excel in areas of passion and interest, and eventually delivering complete inner peace and enlightenment – or that amazing "peace that passes all understanding", as it was described in one book…
 Deflating the ego
Ego deflation is a central pillar of genuine, thorough spiritual practice. Even so, this terminology — ego deflation — is hardly ever used to describe it. Perhaps the phrase sounds too negative to the Western psyche…
Resources: Spiritual principles
The items listed in this section of web resources for spiritual principles are NOT related to twelve-step programs.
- Principles of Spiritual Activism – a list of thirteen (13) spiritual principles – Satyana — These principles emerged from several years’ work with social change leaders in Satyana’s Leading with Spirit program; offered not as definitive truths, but rather as key learnings and guidelines that, taken together, comprise a useful framework for “spiritual activism”…
- Ten Spiritual Principles of Discipline: What I Learned from Adi Da Samraj – Frank Marrero
- Principles of Spiritual Evolution (Part I) – a list of nine (9) spiritual principles
Resources: Spiritual principles from twelve-step recovery perspective
This section of resources for spiritual principles relates to twelve-step programs like A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous), N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous), O.A. (Overeaters Anonymous), etc. It should be noted that the separation of general spiritual principles (above) from these 12-step recovery related links is not because the latter are any less valid or helpful. Simply, folks who are not involved in twelve-step recovery programs are likely to pass over material specifically targeted for people in recovery.
- List Of Spiritual Principles Of Recovery – Sober Recovery
- List of Spiritual Principles: 12 Steps, 12 Traditions – Overeaters Anonymous (PDF)
- Spiritual Principles in Action – Recovery Life – One of the more detailed posts on the subject
So far, it seems the majority of Internet resources resulting from searches for terms like "spiritual principles" have been written from the perspective 12-step recovery programs. (At least, that is what this blogger has noticed.)
Resources: Lists of spiritual principles
Please help spread the message any way you can:
- Fundamentalism — whether religious or political — is one of the true, major, current scourges on the planet; nothing good can come from it.
- The way forward for all mankind is to embrace basic universal spiritual principles in all affairs.
- Individuals, groups, and nations should not expect others to adopt their own culture-specific or religion-specific traditions, practices, or beliefs; instead, mutual respect should reign.
(Without this spiritual principle in full practice, substantial spiritual growth is highly unlikely, if not impossible…)
The random photo set of stained glass windows at a church in downtown Nashville (Lindsley Ave., one of the most conservative Church of Christ-style congregations I have ever experienced) was removed because it is more evocative of the ‘religious’ than the ‘spiritual’ — especially for non-churchgoers. The rotating photo set of the spiral galaxies was removed because they were obviously not my work… I stated at the outset that all photos were taken by yours truly!
One of the most often disputed and challenged beliefs promoted here concerns the great similarity and agreement among the most influential spiritual gurus, teachers, religions, spiritual paths, etc. when their teachings are properly interpreted or understood. I firmly believe that strengthening the bridges that connect various faiths and celebrating the similarities is much more spiritually principled than tearing them down and adopting divisive fundamentalist belief systems in which only one’s own group can ever be right – & everyone else wrong.
- Wonder and fascination (I’m still considering how to accurately describe this one… They were included in another, shorter list of universal spiritual principles I liked)
Though I would not care to attend regularly these days for various reasons, this author will always be grateful for the significant spiritual lessons learned in twelve step groups, meetings, and participation.